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Aug, 06 2018

John Abraham buys minority stake in GNC franchise partner

The latest funding is in line with the global trend where celebrities have been investing in brands instead of endorsing them.

The model turned Bollywood actor John Abraham has picked up a minority stake in Guardian Healthcare, the master franchise partner of US-based health and nutrition company GNC in India. Abraham, has entered into the celebrity business adoption race who are increasingly shifting from brand endorsements to part-financing consumer products firms, and help influence sales. While the company didn't disclose the deal size, the latest funding pegs the company's worth at about Rs 250 crore.

"John is extremely passionate and disciplined about fitness and his relationship with the company will be much beyond endorsement fees," said Shadab Khan, CEO at GNC India. "John, a fitness enthusiast, will also be the face of GNC in India to help disseminate information regarding supplements and breaking myths and confusion about them."

Taparia family had sold contraceptive maker Famy Care to Mylan for $800 million in 2015, and acquired a majority stake in pharmacy chain Guardian about two years ago. In India, Guardian has tied up with GNC as a sole franchisee with exclusive distribution and marketing rights for wellness and performance products, including protein, performance supplements and vitamins.

Read also: Highlighting the Positive Side of Supplements

The latest funding is in line with the global trend where celebrities have been investing in brands instead of endorsing them. For instance, singer Madonna funded coconut water brand Vita Coco, rapper 50 Cent had minority stake in Glaceau vitamin water, while Beyonce invested lat year in watermelon-water startup WTRMLN WTR.a

India celebrities have been following the similar investment trend too Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez has invested in Rakyan Beverages that makes juices under the Raw Pressery brand, Madhuri Dixit is an angel investor in a wearable fitness band called GoQii while men's grooming brand Beardo is backed by Suniel Shetty.

The Pittsburgh headquartered brand GNC or General Nutrition Centre, has over 6,700 retail outlets in the United States and franchise sources in about 50 countries. The brand has over 75 stores in India, nearly all products are imported from its home market which translates into higher price-tags and time lag of 3-4 months. The company wants to change that. "We have identified over half a dozen contract manufacturers that will make the products in India. This will also help bring cost down since import duties will come down," said Khan.

The nutraceuticals market in India currently is valued at $4 billion and is expected to grow at 21% to reach $10 billion by 2022. Many mainstream fast moving consumer goods companies have been entering the market, mostly in the functional food category. While Marico has launched meal replacement beverage, Parag Milk Foods has expanded into making whey protein.

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